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An Inspiring Story – Dr. Li Ma’s Visit to Dunman High School

Dr. Li Ma, Assistant Professor from MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, was at CSI Singapore on a three-day visit from 1-3 July 2015. Apart from giving a scientific talk about her impressive research studies at MD Anderson, as well as taking part in individual discussions with CSI faculty, Dr. Ma also visited Dunman High School (DHS) and gave an inspiring talk about her career to a selected group of about 60 Junior High students from DHS’s Science Excellence Program.

Dr. Ma’s visit was made possible by a donation from Rachelle Toh, a DHS student who had contributed a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her novel to CSI Singapore. In a contribution which has gone full circle, Rachelle’s donation has shown that no contribution is too small. Dr. Ma’s talk was an invaluable opportunity for the students, who particularly excel in science and are looking to pursue careers in the fields of medicine and biomedical research.

Dr. Ma graduated with a B.Sc degree from Peking University and later moved to USA where she obtained her Ph.D from Sloan Kettering Institute in New York. Dr. Ma shared about her journey from a student to a successful cancer researcher at one of the world’s biggest cancer centers. She gave a brief overview of the individuals in her life and her personal choices which shaped her career direction in the field of biomedical research. She also touched briefly on the struggles she faced in her career, such as adapting to a new culture and environment, an initial language barrier, balancing marriage and family while pursuing her Ph.D, and building up self-confidence to present oneself. Dr. Ma, a successful young investigator, remains grounded and modest about her success despite overcoming these challenges.

It is hoped that Dr. Ma’s talk will inspire these young students to pursue their interests in medical research, where they may one day contribute to the acceleration of life-changing discoveries in science.


Dr. Foo Suan Fong, Principal of Dunman High School, presents a gift of appreciation to Prof. Daniel G. Tenen, Director of CSI Singapore.


Dr. Li Ma sharing with the students her career journey in the field of cancer research.


Dr. Ma’s talk was an invaluable opportunity for these students, who are looking to pursue careers in the fields of medicine and biomedical research.